MOSCOW, September 9 (RIA Novosti) – The Islamic State (IS) jihadist group is thrusting children into the ongoing war in Syria and Iraq, Al-Shorfa news agency reported on Tuesday.
"Up to 700 children have been killed or maimed in Iraq since the beginning of the year, including in summary executions," Leila Zerrougui, Under Secretary-General United Nations Representative for Children and Armed Conflict at the Under Secretary-General level, was quoted as saying.
"Other children are used as suicide bombers," she added.
According to the UN, IS militants have killed hundreds of children in Iraq through executions as well as suicide missions. Boys as young as 13, have been recruited by the jihadist group, with orders to carry weapons, guard strategic locations, and arrest civilians, Zerrougui said.
"ISIL [IS] is currently preparing the new generation of its criminal members and has already set up training camps for children, the most famous of which is the camp of 'al-Zarqawi's Cubs'," Major General Abdul Kareem Ahmed, an Egyptian military retiree, told Al-Shorfa.
The Sunni militants claim that the role of children in the conflict is an act of jihad and a sharia duty.
Cairo University psychology professor and family relations consultant Waliyuddine Mukhtar explains that children exploited, brainwashed, and used by IS to fight in the war, will experience inevitable psychological damage.
The IS controls vast swathes of land in Syria and northern Iraq. Their radical take on Islam has already forced tens of thousands of Christians, Shias and Yazidis to flee their homes in Iraqi Kurdistan alone. The group proclaimed a caliphate over the conquered territories in June.